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NEW IN TOWN

SYNOPSIS:
Lucy Hill (Renée Zellweger) is a high-powered consultant with an upscale Miami lifestyle, who is sent to a small town in Minnesota to oversee the restructuring of a blue collar manufacturing plant. At first, the frosty reception from the locals matches the freezing weather, but slowly Lucy warms to the charms of the locals including Ted Mitchell (Harry Connick Jr.), the union leader at the factory she has been sent to restructure.

Review by Louise Keller:
B grade in every way, this fish-out-of-water rom-com is a sorry disappointment - from its tired script to Renée Zellweger's lacklustre performance. The direction is bumpy, while the editing is as choppy as the sub-zero weather conditions, leaving us with the feeling that all the good parts have been left out. It does not matter that we have seen a version of this story before. What does matter is that we are not sucked in, and most importantly, we don't care about Zellweger's high-flying Working Girl Lucy or the journey she takes.

In the context of well-heeled modern Miami executive with beachside pad, flash convertible and the highest of stilettos, it is not surprising that fun is made of the hokey, small-town locals of Minnesota who collect scrapbooks, hand out bowls of home-made tapioca and praise Jesus. After all, that's the basis of a fish-out-of water comedy. But the problem starts and ends right here. There is no affection with which the filmmakers take us into this environment. There is a difference between laughing WITH and laughing AT, and at no time do we feel the filmmakers have any respect for the characters and their way of life. As for Lucy, she may have a firm step up the corporate ladder, but she sure doesn't have any common sense. Why would anyone except a blonde Barbie doll venture to an outpost town in the middle of winter wearing high heels and forget coat, hat and gloves?

Zellweger usually has such a pleasant screen presence, but here she looks disinterested; all those cute facial expressions we remember from films such as Bridget Jones, Jerry Maguire and Miss Potter are strangely unattractive here. There's little chemistry, either, between Zellweger and Harry Connick Jr's beer-drinking union leader who drives a pick-up truck ('You're not so bad when you're unconscious'); it's hard to know what Connick Jr is doing in the film. But Siobhan Fallon's simple, sincere secretary, cum-tapioca making expert Blanche is totally believable and J.K. Simmons delivers a star turn as the bearded no-nonsense, salt of the earth foreman Stu, who says 'Don't let the badgers bite ya in the ass', when Lucy heads for the woods with a roll of white toilet paper tucked under her arm during a crow-shooting incident. Jokes fall flat, the story goes limp and Zellweger will no doubt want to forget she was ever New in Town.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 0

NEW IN TOWN (PG)
(US, 2009)

CAST: Renee Zellwegger, Harry Connick jr, Siobhan Fallon, J.K. Simmons, Mike O'Brien, Frances Conroy, Ferron Guerreiro, James Durham, Robert Small,

PRODUCER: Paul Brooks, Tracey E. Edmonds, Phyllis Laing, Andrew Paquin, Peter Safran, Darryl Taja

DIRECTOR: Jonas Elmer

SCRIPT: Kenneth Rance, C.Jay Cox

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Chris Seager

EDITOR: Troy Takaki

MUSIC: John Swihart

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Dan Davis

RUNNING TIME: 93 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Icon

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 5, 2009







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